A day of action at Willingdon Beach was part of a nation-wide action to make the declared climate emergency a top election issue.
The September 8 event was sponsored by the Powell River chapter of the Council of Canadians and 350.org, which is an international movement of people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy. The event drew about 100 people to the Willingdon Beach pavilion, with many of the participants displaying signs drawing attention to climate action.
Trish Cocksedge, Powell River Council of Canadians representative and an event organizer, said it was a non-partisan event.
“We would like to focus the attention of all candidates and all parties on upping their game in regard to real action on a real crisis,” said Cocksedge.
She said that September 8 was a national day of action where people of all political stripes want to start a movement that doesn’t shut down.
“We are going to light fires under the feet and butts of politicians and all of the candidates right now and make them really understand this isn’t something they can just put off on the side,” said Cocksedge. “They have to make it top of the agenda, top of their considerations and more importantly, top of their actions.”
Cocksedge said that accountability was being sought to deal with the climate issues.
“There is no other way to go,” said Cocksedge. “We don’t have that much time left.”
Cocksedge said that during the federal election, candidates’ and parties’ platforms are being checked for climate action initiatives, but ultimately, it’s not words but actions that matter.
“We kind of put the words to one side,” said Cocksedge. “This will not stop when the election is over. We’ll keep going and going until they actually do something. They [politicians] promise lots of things but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to follow through.”
Cocksedge said plans are to have regular events such as the September 8 day of action. She said the rally was not a single event. There will be more Fridays for Future gatherings, where participants will bring attention to climate concerns.
“We’re not going anywhere and we are working together,” said Cocksedge. “This is not one group. We’re going to make sure it does not stop.”
In terms of actions going forward, Cocksedge said that no more new pipelines is an imperative. She said that subsidies for big oil have to cease, as well as support for liquified natural gas.
“Money needs to be put into alternatives,” said Cocksedge. “We have all kinds of development happening in solar and wind, and that’s where it should go. We also need training in jobs that will push workers over from oil and gas to sustainable energy. That’s critical.”
Cocksedge said she believes there are great opportunities for sustainable energy in Canada. She said there are enough studies out there that clearly indicate it’s possible.
“It can be done,” said Cocksedge. “It will take a little while but the longer we wait, the worse it is. We want to see action now. Right now, it’s all talk.
“We need to get together, work together, yell together and make sure that the politicians are hearing us. If we are loud enough, right across the country, it has to happen.”
Cocksedge said she is hoping that people will put the matter on top of their discussions so that pressure can be brought to bear on those making decisions.
“I think we’d hoped that something would have happened,” said Cocksedge. “The message has been out there for quite a while.”
During a speech at the event, Cocksedge paid tribute to long-time Council of Canadians member Murray Dobbin, who had served on the national board. Dobbin died on September 8.
“When we talk about civic literacy and democracy and real action, we are talking about Murray,” said Cocksedge. “When we talk about someone passionate about climate or social justice, human rights and steadfast civic engagement, we are talking about Murray. He was a journalist, author of many books and author of a phrase which I believe we all need to take up: the intentional citizen. Murray was intentional in everything he said and did.”